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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, 26 March 2010 11:33

Nature’s Basket Jumps Gun from Pole Position

The latest store of the Godrej-owned Nature’s Basket in Delhi appears all set to be the first Retail supermarket in the queue to offer wine at the gourmet food chain, but it seems to have jumped the gun in making announcement insinuating  that it had also started selling wine, writes Subhash Arora .

Perhaps the latest Bollywood style of publicity blitzkrieg a few weeks before a new blockbuster movie, is in action for wine retailing in Delhi. ‘Nature’s Basket offers a complete range of culinary requirements under one roof; a walk through the store elicits taste delightful….wines from the classic wine addresses in Italy, France, Spain & the new world Chilean, Californian, Argentinean and Japanese wine regions;’ cried the Press Release from the company.

It got thumbs up from journalists working overtime to jump the gun and be the first to announce that after the undue waiting period, wine was now available in your neighbourhood grocery store in the Capital of India-the venue of Commonwealth Games 2010. It was certainly tempting enough for me to drive over to the store opened in the posh Defence Colony only last week.

There were no wines on display or sale-there was a locked room which the acting stores in-charge said would be the wine room and was fitted with . The key was not with him, he said but perhaps with Mr. S. Ghosh, the stores manager who was unfortunately not present to answer any query. Surprised, I asked him if they had the license to sell wine. ‘No, but we are told we will have it by mid-April,’ he said. And the wine stocks-have you already bought the wine/’ He hesitatingly said yes-but quickly somersaulted and  said, ‘actually, that’s no problem- we have our distributors in Mumbai and we can get them immediately.’

Nature’s Bounty is in fact one of the first supermarket chains in Mumbai that started selling wines when it was allowed in Maharashtra around 2005-6. When it opened the store in the Mumbai suburban Oshiwara near Lokhandwala complex, I had gone to check it out. There was a smart girl in the air-conditioned room well-stacked and stocked with wines, with prices mentioned clearly on the bottle. There was a very good choice of wines, a few deals were being also offered to attract the customers and most of all, the salesgirl sincerely tried to help me select some wine and make a sale.

A welcome change from the liquor shops in Delhi with wine being sold as a commodity- though many modern air-conditioned shops have since come up in Gurgaon as well as Delhi. DelWine has been recommending this store to its Mumbai customers and in all probability will also do so in Delhi, once the wines are available.

One minor irritant still remains- despite the government announcing almost 6 months ago to the media that it was shedding  its backward -state status and allowing the sale of wine through the supermarkets, it has not made it to the gazette (for our international readers, the equivalent would imply the proverbial slip between the cup and the lip!).

Perhaps, Nature’s Basket has a clue. We hope they do have a clue! There are plenty of potential customers in Delhi for wine, waiting in the wing.  Even though the sales will not take off unless the excise duties are streamlined, the significant number that buys from stores like Spencer’s across the border, will patronise Nature’s Basket if and when they get that precious piece of paper-called license.

Subhash Arora



Alok Chandra Says:

People in Bangalore may be somewhat surprised at the hoopla surrounding sale of wine from a supermarket - but then, we're somewhat spoilt here as alcoholic beverages have been available in supermarkets for some years now. The principal chains are Matro (membership required), Spar, Foodworld, Spencer's, and Monday-to-Sunday. This is as it should be - the restrictive policies in Delhi are an aberration, so let's hope things improve in the future.

Posted @ March 27, 2010 11:53




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